Rwanda Premier League champions Rayon Sports have pulled out of this year’s Ubutwari football tournament, just a day before it starts.
The development was confirmed to Saturday Sport by Jean Paul Nkurunziza, the club’s spokesperson.
The last minute withdrawal is reportedly due to unmet demands from the club. The tournament gets underway Saturday and will climax on February 1 at Kigali Stadium.
Rayon protested that their new players – without International Transfer Certificate (ITC) or work permit – were refused to feature in the tournament, which was not the case last year.
“Ubutwari Cup is not a Fifa-sanctioned tournament, the organisers should have relaxed the rules,” argued Nkurunziza.
“We have a number of new signings who are yet to receive their ITC or work permits, this tournament would have been a good opportunity to test themselves and gain match fitness. The rules did not work for us, so we decided not to participate.”
In a separate interview, Regis Uwayezu, Secretary-General of the Rwanda Football Association, said the rules were clear and communicated to all the teams, and would not change because of one team.
“No team will be allowed to field unlicensed players,” Uwayezu said.
With the pulling out by Rayon, who finished third last year, the organisers have invited SC Kiyovu fill the gap, joing in contention holders APR, Police and Mukura.
APR and Mukura face off in the opener on Saturday afternoon at 3pm, while Kiyovu and Police go head-to-head at 6pm.
The winners will pocket Rwf6 million, with the first runners-up earning Rwf4 million, while the second runners-up will receive Rwf3 million.
In the meantime, women’s league champions Scandinavia and AS Kigali will again square off on January 31 in a rematch of the 2019 showdown when AS Kigali narrowly overcame Scandinavia 1-0 to lift the trophy.
Winners will bag Rwf2 million, whereas the other side will get Rwf1 million.Follow https://twitter.com/pkamasa